WHO would have thought this? Not me for a start!
The Millers outplayed and, indeed, outclassed the League One side from the first minute thanks to their finest and most complete performance of the season.
They were simply outstanding - it was the club’s best FA Cup performance for 10 years (since beating Southampton) and the best one away from home in the competition for years. On a night when they looked, from the start, to have more men on the pitch than County so hard did they work, Rotherham were on top and in charge even before Notts were reduced to 10 men on the half-hour mark.
They were leading 2-0 at the time and a third goal ensured the Millers could see the second half out comfortably and so clinch a fourth straight away win and earn a third round trip to Aldershot.
Steve Evans made only defensive changes forced on him by the one-match ban of Ian Sharps and the unavailability of Liam Ridehalgh.
Johnny Mullins switched into centre defence, Mark Bradley stepped in at right back and 18-year-old central defender Jack O’Connell got his first start at left back.
In the first game, (1-1) it was Notts who flew ferociously out of the traps. This time it was the red-hot Millers. They’d already had four goal attempts by the time Pringle made his stunning 25 yarder count after just nine minutes.
In the opening minute a delightful move ended with Daniel Nardiello’s 16 yarder being held. Then Mullins headed over from a corner.
O’Connor’s 30 yarder had Mitchell at full stretch. The midfielder swung in the corner and it was almost over the line when Mitchell punched it out.
Rotherham cashed in on their blistering start with Pringle’s fine strike. Playing confident, assertive football and pressing Notts all over the pitch whenever the home side had the ball, Rotherham simply didn’t let their opponents into the game. They deservedly got a second goal on 22 minutes.
Mark Bradley’s foray earned a corner on the right. Pringle swung it in, it glanced off the jumping bunch to the far post and there was Bradley to hook his effort in from an angle.
Notts were stunned. Rotherham were in dreamland. It was to get even better.
Firstly the home side were reduced to 10 men and central defender Cameron Stewart could have no complaints at his straight red card.
A long ball beyond the defence saw Revell start to give chase only for Stewart, as they both set off, to stick his forearm right into Revell’s face and fell the striker. Northern Ireland international O’Connor fizzed the resulting free-kick just over.
County boss Keith Curle decided he’d no choice but to ‘go for it’ and he went 3-3-3 which left his side vulnerable at the back.
This was highlighted when Lee Frecklington burst clear only for Mitchell to block his shot.
County, who had managed just one on-target effort by then, knew they had to try and get back in the game but the Millers flattened them and delighted their own sizeable following with a third goal just before half-time.
When Frecklington lifted the ball forward over Liddle, an offside flag went up against Revell.
However, Frecklington was already running onto his own pass. The ref rightly allowed the midfielder to continue (deeming Revell wasn’t ‘active’) and Frecklington ran on, rounded the keeper and cut the ball back for Nardiello to finish off, his 11th of the season.
Notts made three substitutions at half-time to freshen things up Labadie was very close with a 20 yarder in the opening minutes.
But it was a massive ask and Frecklington was a whisker from a fourth goal whilst Mitchell saved efforts from Revell and Pringle and Nardiello missed a great chance as Rotherham’s 800 fans sang their team home.
NOTTS COUNTY: Mitchell; Kelly, Liddle, Stewart, Sheehan; Boucaud (Labadie ht); Campbell-Ryce, Bishop, J Hughes (Zoko ht); Judge; Arquin (Showunmi ht). Subs: Pilkington, Mahon, Bencherif, Regan.
ROTHERHAM UNITED: Warrington; Bradley, Mullins, Arnason, O’Connell (Cameron 74); Taylor Rose 85), O’Connor; Pringle, Frecklington, Nardiello (Walker 90); Revell. Subs: Shearer, Agard, Odejayi, Denton.
Referee: Darren Deadman
Goals: Pringle (9), Bradley (22), Nardiello (41).